Monday, December 8, 2014
Happy Birthday to Sammy Davis Jr.
Samuel George "Sammy" Davis, Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990), was an American entertainer. Primarily a dancer and singer, he was also an actor of stage and screen, musician, and impressionist, noted for his impersonations of actors, musicians and other celebrities. At the age of 3 Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father and Will Mastin as the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally. After military service Davis returned to the trio. Davis became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro's (in West Hollywood, California) after the 1951 Academy Awards. With the trio, he became a recording artist. Davis's film career began as a child in 1933. In 1960, he appeared in the first Rat Pack film, Ocean's 11. After a starring role on Broadway in 1956's Mr Wonderful, Davis returned to the stage in 1964's Golden Boy, and in 1966 had his own TV variety show, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. Davis's career slowed in the late 1960s, but he had a hit record with "The Candy Man" in 1972 and became a star in Las Vegas, earning him the nickname "Mister Show Business". As an African-American, Davis was the victim of racism throughout his life and was a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights movement. After reuniting with Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, Davis toured with them and Liza Minnelli internationally. Davis was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his television performances. He was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1987, and in 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Samuel George Davis, Jr., was born in the Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City, as an only child, to Sammy Davis, Sr., an African-American entertainer, and Elvera Sanchez, a tap dancer of Afro-Cuban descent. At age 7, Davis appeared in a film in which he sang and danced with Ethel Waters.. During service in WWII, the Army assigned Davis to an integrated entertainment Special Services unit and he found that the spotlight lessened the prejudice. Davis was hired to sing the title track for the Universal Pictures film Six Bridges to Cross in 1954, and later to his starring role in the Broadway play Mr. Wonderful in 1956. Davis was a headliner at The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, but he was required (as were all black performers in the 1950s) to lodge in a rooming house on the west side of the city, Davis later refused to work at places which practiced racial segregation.